British-Moroccan model Nora Attal hits the (sand) slopes

Nora Attal finished off 2018 by attending the British Fashion Awards in London earlier this month.(Getty Images)
Updated 24 December 2018

British-Moroccan model Nora Attal hits the (sand) slopes

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal hit the dunes in the UAE last week and took to Instagram to show off her trip to the country.

Attal, who has walked the runway for some of the world’s leading high-end labels, enjoyed an afternoon of sandboarding in the emirate of Sharjah and even posted a snap on Instagram.

“Apparently sandboarding is a thing,” she captioned the sunset shot.

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Apparently sandboarding is a thing

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A few days later, Attal posted a photo of a shark in an aquarium, captioning it “buddy,” which could well have been snapped at one of Dubai’s underwater zoos — both The Dubai Mall and Atlantis, The Palm hotel are famous for their sea creature enclosures.

Earlier in December, the teenage model — who was first scouted when she was just 12 years old — walked the runway in an Ancient Egypt-inspired show by Chanel in New York.

Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld took his traveling fashion show to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and sent models down the runway in an array of glittering looks, with Attal donning a gold tweed jacket-and-skirt ensemble. The model also wore heavy, Cleopatra-inspired makeup and dangling earrings to complete the look.

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It’s been a busy year for Attal, who also took to the catwalk for Elie Saab, Loewe and Dior during Paris Fashion Week in September and starred in Italian fashion label Versace’s summer advert campaign.

In May, luxury e-retailer Farfetch launched in the Middle East with a little help from Attal.

She starred in a photoshoot wearing pieces from collections on sale on the platform. The colorful photographs were accompanied by a snappy, chatty interview with the young model.

Readers got the chance to gain insight into her earliest fashion memories and learn some off-the-cuff facts about the star.

“Recently I’ve been obsessed with noughties trends. Everyone was so cool and effortless back then. Now I go out in a full Juicy Couture tracksuit with no shame,” she told Farfetch at the time.

“If I wasn’t a model, I’d probably be at university, studying to get into something like criminal investigations, profiling or law,” she added.

She finished off 2018 by attending the British Fashion Awards in London on Dec. 10, wearing a hot pink pantsuit by Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe.

The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

Updated 24 August 2019

The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

  • How designers in the MENA region are making a different kind of fashion statement
  • The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa

CAIRO: Fashion is about far more than just trendy outfits. The growing demand for ethical clothing is one example of how designers are seeking to leave a legacy beyond the runway.

The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa. Recent initiatives include Talahum by UAE-based designer Aiisha Ramadan, who created coats that transform into sleeping bags for disadvantaged and refugee communities living without proper shelter.

In 2016, Cairo hosted ICanSurvive, an event to commemorate World Cancer Day. As part of the project, 32 cancer survivors were paired with fashion designers to help them create the outfit of
a lifetime.

“I consider this to be one of my biggest achievements,” said Egyptian couturier Ahmed Nabil, 28, one of the volunteers at ICanSurvive. “I still can’t let go of the moment I saw her crying from happiness when she got to wear her outfit at the event.”

Though a transformational experience for Nabil, this was not his first attempt at thought-provoking designs. He was only 23 when he launched his company, Nob Designs, in 2014 to begin a journey of exploration by designing clothes for unconventional causes and experimental concepts.

The company sells a diverse set of fashion pieces with designs that aim to inspire conversation. Nabil’s creations are much like art pieces at a gallery, but instead of being displayed on canvas, they are exhibited on t-shirts, tops, dresses and abayas.

His latest collection combines street fashion inspired by underground culture with Arabic calligraphy. The Halal Project endeavors to blur the lines between conservative and edgy to demonstrate that fashion designs can be accessible to anyone.

“It’s all about the idea of accepting one another regardless of differences,” Nabil said. “My main aim for this project is a call for all people to peacefully coexist.”

Nabil added that the shift towards tolerance is not something that just the general public needs to work on. Fashion designers themselves are sometimes biased in their perceptions.

Many millennial designers, particularly in Egypt, remain wary of exploring modest fashion, despite the trend’s rising popularity. Sometimes it is because they want to avoid defining themselves as conservative instead of being considered modern and trendy.

Fellow Egyptian designer Sara Elemary, who has been running her Sara Elemary Designs label for nearly a decade, agrees.

“Modesty is a big thing in Egypt. I can’t understand why they are neglecting it,” she said. “A woman doesn’t have to be in a headscarf to wear modest clothing. There are so many famous designers for whom modesty plays a big role in
their work.”

Meanwhile, events such as Dubai Modest Fashion Week have been promoting the concept and encouraging budding designers in the region to consider this trending domain.

“I believe that there’s a problem with modest fashion, but over the past two years, that issue has started to diminish as designers have incorporated more modest designs in their collections,” Nabil said.

The next step for him is getting into the couture domain with his long-awaited project, Nob Couture. The look of the new collection is still a mystery, but he seems determined to continue sending messages and starting discussions through his designs, which he said are inspired by his life experiences.

As for designers in the region, the time is ripe for them to start supporting the causes they believe in through their work. Whatever topic or fashion style they decide to pursue, they need to be fearless in triggering conversation in the Arab world with their creations.